Diabetes is Killing My Love for the Gym

Since being diagnosed, I have been trying to get back to my 5 days a week (for 1hr) gym routine. I spent the first 7 months after my diagnosis being too scared to enter the gym. My first visit back to the gym proved that I had every right to be nervous because I had a hypo after 30 minutes of aqua-Zumba.

Since I am celebrating my 1st year of being a med-free diabetic this month, I thought that I would kick up my exercise routine. I’m currently working out for 30 minutes 3 times a week. Plus, last holiday season I gained seven pounds that are still hanging out and I can’t add another seven.

I was excited and pumped to crank up my 30 minutes to an hour. After 30 minutes on the elliptical, I checked my glucose and I was 78. Bummer! I certainly can’t keep this up. So, I stopped, grabbed my things, rested for 15 minutes, and drove home.  I felt defeated. Just like I did last month when I tried to tackle jogging to burn off extra calories and my left knee (which I dislocated some years back) informed me via the intense pain it caused, that training for a 5k run wasn’t an option. My feelings of defeat almost got the best of me while driving home from the gym that day, but I countered my thoughts with positive ones and triumphed over the brewing breakdown.

Then earlier this week, I spoke with one of the fitness experts at my gym. I told him that I wanted to prepare for a 5k, but that my left knee does not do well with the impact from the treadmill. He introduced me to the new AMT (Adaptive Motion Trainer) machine at the gym.

He said, with this machine I could run, climb, and rotate like on an elliptical. I was excited to try it. He did warn me, “Now, this here machine will give you a gooood workout.”  I was up for the challenge.

I lasted 27, wonderful, sweaty minutes until I started feeling like I was gonna faint. I pushed through for another 3 minutes to make it an even 30 minutes and 300 calories, but once I stepped off the machine, my glucose was 73. Bummer! Here we go again, I thought.

I refused to just go home this time, however. I went down stairs, bought some orange juice to get my glucose back up, laid on a mat, but still felt defeated. The feeling of defeat merged with the knowledge that the orange juice was 220 calories (just about all the calories that I burned) and I was powerless against the flow of tears. I wept. There on a mat in the gym wondering if I will ever get back to doing an hour of intense cardio again? Feeling like an hour at the gym for a non-diabetic is like 1.5-2 hours for me with all the breaks in the middle. I hate having to eat or drink something before working out because I feel like I’m only burning off what I just ate and not the stored fat. But if I don’t eat and have a hypo, I’m just putting the calories back that I burned off. What in the world can I do?

I hate what diabetes is doing to my love for the gym. Eventually, I got up from the floor, wiped my eyes, took a picture to mark what I hope to be the last day of feeling defeated at the gym, and went to lift weights. I thought that it would make me feel better, but I was thrown off my A game too badly to even do that well.

Someone help me figure out how to manage diabetes at the gym.

Are there any LOW CALORIE things I can drink/eat to raise my glucose while at the gym?
Are those glucose tablets as effective as juice?
How should I treat a low? Wait it out or be proactive?
After 30 minutes, I was 140 and I’m not sure if that was the solely the orange juice, so maybe waiting on my liver to wake up and produce sugar is a good idea.
Any advice will be helpful at this point.


By | 2013-08-05T22:29:06+00:00 November 25th, 2012|Type 2 Diabetes and Weight Loss / Exercise|


  1. Dr.P November 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    Thanks Scott very much.

    I tried eating an apple before my workouts this week and that has helped tremendously. I'm going to experiment with that for a week an then update this entry.

    Thanks again.

  2. Scott K. Johnson November 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    Hey Doc P!

    I'm so sorry to hear that you're struggling with this. I know it's much different for you, and I'm not nearly as familiar with type 2 stuff. But I wanted to at least send along a note of moral support.

    I also think that any exercise you do at the gym helps crank up your metabolism, so even if you have to use some carbs to get you through the workout, it's still a net benefit. That and you're getting your heart pumping, which is good too.

    I might suggest checking out some of the forums like TuDiabetes.org where there may be more people with type 2 that can offer some actual advice and ideas. Seems I'm a bit short on those things here. 🙂

    All the best to ya, and keep your chin up!

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